What You Left Behind
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, its characters, settings and its world are all creations of JK Rowling, and I don't own them. I'm just borrowing them.
Chapter One: What I Know Is This..
No sooner than Five O'clock had sounded on the grandfather clock in her office, Jenny had dropped her paperwork, grabbed her coat and shut the door behind her. On the glass pane her name was set in gold letters, "Jennifer White - Senior Journalist". Slipping the coat on as she walked she stopped at the polished receptionist's desk in the middle of the room. The pretty young woman behind the desk smiled as she saw Jenny approaching. She appeared to be about 22 years old and her sleek dark hair was pulled up in a bun. Her jade green eyes glittered warmly and the badge on her jacket said "Sylvie".
"What's this? A jail break?" She said with a sly grin.
"Sylvia, I'm heading out for the night, Lily wants me home early. If Mr. Jones asks tell him I'm researching a new story, will you? That man's never satisfied unless I eat, drink and dream journalism." She said rolling her eyes.
Sylvia chuckled and gave Jenny an apologetic smile. "The perils of working for Damien Jones. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me."
Jenny laughed. "Thanks Sylvia, I'll see you bright and early in the morning, as usual." she said in a droning voice.
Sylvia laughed. "That you will, I can't understand how Jones knew that we were both dying to change our 8am starts to 6am." She said in a mock curious voice.
"Oh I know," Jenny said in speculation, "Or how he ever figured out we wanted to stay here and work for him as late as possible every night leaving little or no room for sleep at all."
"He must have found out about our non existent social lives and taken pity on us.." Sylvia suggested.
Jenny smirked, "Well, if they weren't non existent before, they definitely are now."
"Tell me about It." Sylvia said rolling her eyes. "I'm starting to think that maybe my boyfriend was only ever a figment of my imagination."
Jenny laughed. "I'll cover for you sometime. I better get going though. Thanks a lot Sylvia, I owe you."
"You're welcome, and yes you do. Night Jenny." Sylvia said with a grin, returning to her computer screen.
"Night, don't work too hard!" Jenny called as she disappeared out of the office and onto the pavement outside.
The chilly autumn air cut through her right to the bone and she shivered, wrapping her coat tightly about her chest. The late afternoon sun glowed brilliant gold as it began to fade from the sky, sending a cool chill over the earth. She headed east down the street, her footsteps echoing on the pavement. Checking her watch she realized she was already running late.
Lily's going to kill me.. She thought as she increased her pace, crossing the first of five streets towards her home.
The sleepy town of Portabello lay about ten miles from Kent, and was the town Jenny had learned to call home. The streets were uncommonly quiet for five o'clock on a Friday afternoon, even for a town of this size and nature. However, Jenny did not have time to ponder this, nor did she really notice, she was too concerned with making it home and avoiding Lily's wrath.
As she reached the fifth street, she turned sharply to her left and headed down a narrow, cobblestone lane. Above her the light sensitive lampposts flickered on with a low hum as the golden sun dropped lower behind a row of houses. She pulled into the gate of the third house on the left, number 6. It was a pretty house, complete with a white picket fence and a latched gate. As Jenny stepped onto the property she latched the gate behind her and headed up the stone pathway. Through the kitchen window Jenny could see Lily White's frazzled looking head bobbing up and down over a sink full of dishes. She smiled and pushed open the front door.
"I'm home!" She called.
"About time, I was starting to think you'd forgotten." Lily called impatiently from the kitchen.
"Me? Forget? Never.." Jenny said with a laugh.
Lily stuck her head around the corner of the kitchen door and frowned at her in a disapproving manner. Jenny stopped laughing and slapped her serious face on.
"Sorry. Where do you want me?" She said getting down to business.
"In here. James will be home any minute and I haven't even set the table." Lily said in blind panic as she noticed the time.
"Leave it to me." Jenny said with a grin.
Lily gave her an appreciative look then took her by the arm and dragged her into the kitchen. "It'll be a good chance for you to practice that spell I taught you, dear." Lily said as she hurried over to the stove to check on the self stirring pot on the element.
Jenny smiled weakly. "I dunno if that's a good idea.. Remember what happened last time I tried that one?" She said nervously.
Lily waved her hand in impatient dismissal. "That was your first try! You can't give up that easily. Go on dear, give it a go.."
Jenny sighed reluctantly. "Alright.."
"Good." Lily said firmly, then turned back to her cooking. "So anyway, I was thinking about going into London this weekend, James has some business there he needs to take care of and I thought I would do a bit of shopping."
"That's... Nice.." Jenny called from the conjoined dining room, in a strained voice.
The tablecloth was floating in mid air, attacking her with vengeance.
"Would you like to come? You could keep me company while i spend all our money.." She said in a tempting kind of way, her back to the girl.
"Umm.. Sure.." Jenny said jerkily, as the tablecloth wrapped itself around her torso and attempted to squeeze the life out of her.
"Are you alright dear?" Lily called over her shoulder.
"Fine!.." Jenny said with a strained laugh, "Just fine.."
She had managed to rip the tablecloth off of her body and it hovered above her threateningly.
"How's that table coming along?" she called over the bubbling of the boiling pot.
"Great!.." She wheezed. "I think I'm... finally getting... the hang of this.." As the tablecloth bowled her backwards.
"Good, Good. See what I told you? Patience is the key!" Lily said smiling to herself.
"Yup... Patience." She breathed as it wrapped itself about her neck.
Lily heard the door slam and James voice called from the hallway.
"In the kitchen, dear!" Lily replied. "We're almost ready."
"Smells delicious, as always Lil." He said with a smile as he appeared in the kitchen, his police uniform looking scruffy and well worn. "Where's Jenny, did she get away from that boss of hers on time?"
"Miraculously yes. She's setting the table." Lily said with a smile, then added in an excited whisper. "With Magic".
James' eyes flew open and he snapped his head around to look into the Dining Room, and saw Jenny locked in deadly combat with the tablecloth.
"Not again.." He said in despair, walking into the dining room and shooting a stunning spell at the tablecloth which fell limply down onto the table and smoothed out perfectly.
Jenny wheezed painfully, her hands on her knees as she caught her breath. "Thanks.." She panted.
"Welcome." James frowned. "Lily, I thought you would have learnt not to make her attempt that spell unsupervised after the last time.."
Lily turned around and gave James a stern look. "Practice makes perfect."
James sighed. "As you wish, but I won't be the one explaining "Death by Tablecloth" to the coroner's office." He said, plonking himself down on one of the dining room chairs.
Jenny appreciated his comment and snickered, but was silenced by a look from Lily, and she hurriedly walked over to fetch the cutlery.
"Sorry I'm late," He added rubbing his temples. "Bad day at work. Ten break ins."
"Twenty Five year's ago that would have been a pin drop in the ocean to you." She reminded him.
"You're right." He agreed. "But I'm old now, and things are different. Muggle law enforcement is generally more tame than what Wizarding law enforcement was. I've gone soft."
Jenny finished placing the knives and forks out on the table then headed into the kitchen to fetch the plates, wine glasses and napkins. They had been doing this every year on the 31st of July for as long as she had been with them. She knew exactly where the good china was kept, and the special silver, both of which were only ever used on this date. She placed the wine glasses carefully on the table, making sure that they were perfectly spaced. James gave her an appreciative smile then got to his feet.
"I suppose I had better fill those up, then." He said with a grin which Jenny returned.
"And no skimping this year." She chided.
"Yes Ma'am." he said with a laugh.
"Another year, aye Lily? Harry would be a grown man now.. Maybe married.. children.." James said as he popped the cork on the champagne.
Lily laughed. "Or maybe he wouldn't be the settling down type, the dashing rogue who broke woman's hearts up and down the country.." She imagined.
"Dashing maybe, but he would have had the sense to find himself a nice girl.." James argued with a smile, tilting Jenny's glass as he poured the foaming liquid in carefully.
"You're right." She said smiling, eyes shining with tears. "He would have made us proud.."
Finishing with the table she walked into the kitchen dusting her hands together. "What can I do, Lily?" she asked.
Lily smiled at her, blinking back the persisting salty water, handing her a large dish. "Take the chicken through, put a board under it mind you, I don't want burn marks on my tablecloth."
Jenny pulled a face and disappeared with the chicken.
"And you." She said rounding on James, who froze on the spot, half empty champagne bottle in hand. "Carry through the potatoes. Come come, the faster the food gets there, the faster we eat."
James took the potatoes and gave his wife a weak smile, planting a kiss on her lips. He headed through to the other room, casting her a cheeky grin, and placed them on the table. Lily followed with a platter of vegetables and sat them down next to the other dishes, looking proudly at her work. James lit the tall candles that sat on the table and they hissed and popped as the old wicks began to burn anew. Seating himself in unison with Lily and Jenny, James looked over them and smiled. In his mind, he saw Harry's shining face as he sat in his highchair, laughing at him, his little hands reaching out for his embrace.
"I can't believe my boy is 24 today.." He said with a sad smile. "Where have the years gone too, Lily?"
"It still feels like yesterday.. Its hard to believe its been 23 years since he died.." She said quietly.
Jenny felt their pain as they remembered their only son, he was a year older than she was, and she knew that it pained them to think what their son would be like if he were still alive today, sitting here at this table with them, celebrating his 24th birthday. They had told her five years ago that their only child had been murdered at the age of One. The brutality of it all still made her angry. She couldn't imagine anyone soulless enough to kill a defenseless child, but apparently there was one capable of such an act. One who had died the same night as their son.
"I wish I could have known him." Jenny said quietly.
"He was such a smart boy," Lily said reminiscing. "he starting using magic at four months of age."
James smiled proudly. "That's unheard of for a wizard, children don't usually show signs of magic until they're at least a few years old."
Jenny smiled. She enjoyed hearing about their son. They talked of him as she was sure all doting parents talked of their first borns. In their eyes he was perfect, and remained that way, even though he had been dead for 23 years' Even though they had only had him a year before he was cruelly taken from them, they had endless amounts of stories of his exploits as a young boy. All she had to do was ask and they would talk about him and laugh at their happy memories for hours on end.
Lily grinned devilishly. "Remember the time he turned Sirius' hair green, James?"
James laughed. "Oh, he wasn't a popular Godson that day. Sirius is very vain." James said to Jenny, his eyes shining. "If I remember rightly, Sirius had just spanked him for being naughty."
"He'd crawled under the staircase again, remember James?" Lily said smiling.
"That's right. I don't think Sirius ever spanked him again after that." James said with a chuckle.
"He valued his good looks too much." Lily said with a snicker.
Jenny laughed, then looked from Lily to James. "Don't you miss him? Sirius, I mean."
"Every day." James said quietly. "I hope he's doing OK, where ever he is now."
"Why don't you contact him? I don't understand." She said gently.
"It's been too long, too much time has passed. It's better if we don't dredge up old memories now, It would be too painful for everyone involved. You have to remember, they think we're dead." James said quietly.
Jenny nodded silently and passed the potatoes down to James.
"Didn't it make you sad? Leaving the wizarding world behind?" she asked curiously.
"No.. Nothing has made me sad since the day Harry died.. Nothing will overpower the grief I harbor for my son.. We were powerful, respected wizards, and we couldn't even protect our own son.. He died, and we were right there.. Some say his death was not in vain, He took Voldemort with him.. But my son shouldn't have been forced to assume the role of martyr.." James said in a hollow voice.
Twenty three years had not healed their pain, no matter how hard they had tried to run away from the elements of their lives' that brought up those memories. Jenny frowned and looked at her plate, she never even knew Harry, but the injustice of his death made her feel an indescribable sadness. She had grown to love Lily and James like parents, and seeing their pain tore at her like nothing she had experienced in her life.
Lily took the plate of vegetables and piled peas, carrots and corn onto her plate, then handed it to Jenny, giving her an apologetic smile. She always felt bad for the grief they imposed upon her on this day every year. She needn't have, for Jenny felt close to Harry somehow, in a way she could not describe. James took the vegetables from her and piled some onto his own plate. When everyone had their food ready, James stood and raised his goblet.
"To Harry." He said loudly, "Happy Birthday Son."
"To Harry." Jenny and Lily repeated, drinking to the toast.
After gulping from his goblet, James took his seat and shuffled himself closer to the table, picking up his knife and fork and cutting up his carrots. Lily watched him and laughed.
James looked up at her. "What?" he asked in surprise.
"Nothing.." She said with a chuckle. "It's nothing.."
"What, Love?" He probed again.
"The carrots.. I seem to recall you looked rather good in them." she smiled.
"Oh.. The carrots." He laughed, at last remembering, he moved them to the side cutting up his potatoes instead. "We used to try and force Harry to eat all his vegetables." James informed Jenny, "But at carrots he drew the line."
..."No Da, No." Harry said crossing his arms and shaking his head, his mouth clamped shut.
"Come on Harry, eat your carrots, they'll help you see in the dark, did you know that? They make your eyesight really really amazing, so you can see all kinds of stuff." James said persuasively, piercing one of the carrot sticks on the small fork, zooming it in front of Harry's mouth.
"No, I don't care. No Cawwots." Harry said defiantly.
"Harry James Potter," Lily called in a stern voice from the kitchen. "You're not leaving that highchair to go and play until those carrots are gone from that plate."
"Fine." He said huffily.
The next thing Lily knew there was a small explosion that came from Harry's highchair.
"What in the name of.." Lily said rushing into the room, only to find James covered in mashed carrots.
"I think the carrots are gone, Lily.." He said weakly, looking down at Harry who was looking very pleased with himself.
"Play Time, Play Time, Play Time.." he chanted clapping his hands...
Jenny laughed. "Smart kid."
"Very." James agreed. "The most intelligent boy of his age I've ever seen. He would have done us proud.. I would have been so proud.." He said trailing off, choking slightly.
Lily smiled, her eyes shining with tears. "He used to make his stuffed animals disappear and reappear for us. His own little magic show, he was so proud of himself, The stuffed stag was his favourite toy."
Jenny loved this part. The evening of his birthday was always filled with the adorable stories of baby Harry's quirks, and each year she heard a new one. She was amazed that after twenty three years they still held as much love for their departed son as they had the day he was born. They held him in their daily thoughts, and always in their hearts. Jenny found it touching, and she felt deeply for them, and wondered how they ever got through those first few years after their son's murder. As they began eating she once again appreciated the greatness of Lily's home cooking, and gratefully ate all she could, until her stomach felt as if it would burst if she moved suddenly.
Then it had appeared in the arm's of Lily as it did every year. A great cake, shaped like a stag, littered with 24 candles. The same cake, every year, the same cake she had made for Harry on his first birthday. Jenny's stomach grumbled a warning to her that she would most definitely pay greatly if she touched that cake, but even so, she chose to ignore it. Harry's birthday cake was always the most wonderful experience, and sensing her thoughts, her stomach began to plan its wrath.
"Oh, Lil, It's beautiful. Harry would have loved that." James said with a grin.
Lily shrugged. "He would have thought it was corny by now, by his 15 Birthday I imagine."
James laughed. "Probably so. But he would have loved it never the less.."
She regreted it, as she knew she would, but it had tasted so good she couldn't refuse, as always. Now, her stomach bulging over the top of her jeans, the top button vibrating ominously, she leaned back in satisfaction, wondering if Harry would have thought she was a pig.
"You've outdone yourself, Lil." James said with a grateful smile, leaning over and kissing her cheek warmly.
"It was wonderful Lilly." Jenny agreed, smiling. "Perfect."
"Almost 'Perfect'.." She corrected her quietly. "Almost.."
There was a loud knock on the front door that jolted all three to their senses. Lily looked across at James in surprise, wondering who would be calling at this time of night. James returned the look then smiled to Jenny.
"I'll get it." James said, throwing his napkin down on the table and pushing out his chair.
He disappeared down the hallway, his footsteps padding dully on the carpet. Jenny heard him unlock and open the door, greeting the person on their doorstep with high respect and warmth.
"Oh, Hello Albus." James' voice echoed cheerily down the hall. "I forgot you were going to visit today.."
"Oh, Invite him in James for goodness sake! It's Professor Dumbledore Jenny!"...